ALL countries to promote their economy and improve their bilateral relations with different nation states take necessary measures. Trade and commerce have played a pivotal role in shaping the development of any country and particularly Pakistan has focused on economy and trade by making a significant contribution in terms of tax revenues and providing gainful employment.
Trade is the backbone of any country and so is the case with Pakistan. Trade not only serves to contribute to the national economy through trade liberalisation and facilitation, improving export competiveness and reducing cost of doing business. Pakistan’s aim is to achieve higher market access for Pakistani products in existing markets as well as new markets with ultimate aim of improving quality of life of the people of Pakistan. In today’s world of economic competitiveness, e-commerce and changing dynamics trade now needs increased global integration, greater research, enhanced quality development and sustainability.
The matter of classifying and maintaining brand name is fundamental to trade development and marketing. Trade is not only about earning money but it’s more of image building and public perception. We have different events and expos round the yearto have such Expo Pakistan as a unique opportunity to showcase Pakistan’s potential to the world. It is time when we tell our buyers that the fabric they buy is not just cloth but the essence of our land, a product of the union of ancient rivers, the merging of diverse cultures, the work of dedicated men and women. This is the time to tell world actually that what is “Made in Pakistan”. Pakistan is currently undergoing a process of economic liberalisation, including privatisation of all government corporations, aimed to attract foreign investment and decrease budget deficit.
Pakistan regularly participates in trade fairs of different countries around the globe. In Bangladesh International Trade Fair is held regularly. This year 22nd Dhaka International Trade Fair (DITF-2017) was held from Jan 01 to Jan 31. It is traditionally a month long event in which 20 different countries of the world participated including mainly China, Pakistan, India, Thailand and Turkey. The fair was jointly organised by Export Promotion Bureau and the Ministry of Commerce, Government of Bangladesh. Some observations were recorded during this year exhibition. This event is being organised for the last 20 years and traditionally, a huge no of Pakistani businessmen had been participating in the event which had 600 to 700 stalls of different items. However, this year only 12 number of Pakistani stalls participated whereas in comparison to India, number of Indian stalls have increased manifold over the period.
Every year there used to be 50 stalls which were sponsored by FPCCI from Pakistan that is 25 stalls in each pavilion and this year there were only 12 stalls with a very small cabin size. It has been reported that The Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industries (FPCCI) acquired 300,000 rupees from every applicant while the rent of each stall in Dhaka International Trade Fair was only 95,000 rupees.
It has been learnt that FPCCI got the deposit from 100 willing traders for participation in the trade fair, however, on the contrary they issued recommendation letters for visa to only 20 applicants. Besides, they did not coordinate the visa matter neither with Export Promotion Bureau nor with Ministry of Commerce and Trade, Bangladesh. Due to this negligence, Indian traders got a chance to fill the vacuum and their strength has turned to 400 stalls in comparison to 40-50 stalls in previous year. For the last 10-15 years there used to be 500-600 Pakistani stalls which this time reduced to 12 stalls which are being run by local dealers and traders.
Dhaka International Fair is more popular for sale of Pakistani products and supplements our effort to harvest goodwill amongst the general masses of Bangladesh. Awami League regime has always been biased against Pakistani traders but in spite of these hurdles, Pakistani traders have always been successful in putting up good show at the trade fair. However, this time massive corruption and misappropriation has been done by FPCCI or TDAP. The matter should be investigated thoroughly to fix the responsibility. It may also be pointed out that concerned authorities may be suggested to proceed professionally in such international trade exhibitions as these events have repercussions for the country.
In the last few years Pakistani exports have gone down and FPCCI already had concerned on many issues but a major negligence has been done on their part this time as Pakistan needs to boost up its economy and such bluffs will harm its economy and concerned development sectors. India has used protectionist policies very effectively and now their exports are nearly $300 billion. Their exports were just $23 billion two decades ago, and have grown 15% per annum on average. While in Pakistan among the many factors responsible for our dismal exports, decades of protectionist policies have rendered local industry uncompetitive and inefficient. A protectionist policy works if it protects an infant industry but protecting mature industries simply does not make sense and is not sustainable. Therefore Pakistan needs to take necessary steps for consistent and sustainable growing economy.
— The writer works for Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies, a think-tank based in Islamabad.